“On an A-Class? What’s the point?” is a phrase you find yourself saying a lot about the Mercedes-Benz A160 Brabus. So much, in fact, that you start to see the point: silly, unnecessary, diminutive excess.
Much like a miniature hero that we drove this week, the Toyota GR Yaris, the A160 Brabus was an attempt to cram as much contemporary small car cool into a package that, let’s be honest, wasn’t really meant for it.
Unlike the incredible factory re-engineering job done by Toyota, though, grafting the back end of the Corolla onto the Yaris chassis, lowering the roof line significantly, making it a three-door and stuffing its nose with a highly turbocharged three-cylinder turbocharged engine, the Brabus A-Class always felt more… aftermarket.
The obvious place to start is the body kit; an oddly small and flat front lower bumper matched to little side skirts and a slightly more curvaceous rear bumper, none of which are deep enough to hide the fact that the little A wasn’t designed to ride on such (relatively) large 18-inch Brabus wheels. At least those on this clean-looking example for sale via Collecting Cars have just been refurbished in their proper, shiny diamond-cut finish.
Look at the car from any angle and it screams of the early-2000s era of car customisation fuelled by 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. Brabus penned its ideas for this car back when the current Need for Speed title was Porsche Unleashed and when teenage boys were just as interested in how much spoiler you could squeeze onto a Supra as they were in Michelle Rodriguez.
Inside this example things stay a bit weird. Blue leather – two different shades from the seats to the door and dashboard trim – looks odd, but not unfittingly so. It’s like Brabus wanted to inject some sense of small-car jolliness but couldn’t quite muster enough enthusiasm. Still, it’s in very nice condition with the car having covered less than 30,000 miles since new.
As a small but fizzy-engined little ankle-biter, the Brabus-poked A-Class was years ahead of supermini rivals like the Suzuki Swift Sport and Fiat Panda 100hp. It used a 1598cc ‘M166E 16’ engine tuned for 101bhp at a lowish 5250rpm. With 111lb ft of torque at 4000rpm and not a great deal of weight, the 160 would thrash its way fairly willingly to 113mph.
Our pick of the (rare) used examples has had a good service record, only really blighted by the four-year gap under its previous owner, where it went from August 2016 to July 2020 without engine maintenance. Its most recent fettle was only a basic oil-and-filter change, too, so it definitely needs some checks to establish what else needs doing ASAP. The budget tyres will need binning, too.
All-in-all this is an uncommon example of an oddball city car taken out of its comfort zone in a way we kinda like. It may look a bit Halfords in its execution, but those who know, know, and there’s satisfaction in driving around in something only real aficionados will recognise. Bidding is at a mere £1088 as we bash these keys. Admit it: you’re just a tiny bit interested, aren’t you?